Biggest first-half surprises and disappointments 

June, 27, 2008
06/27/08
10:13
AM ET
This week is the season's midpoint, a season that thus far has seen three managers fired in a week, two general managers dismissed (another body-slammed by a pitcher with a career 4.99 ERA) and the game move on without Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza.

The Rays, who have never won 71 games, are positioned as the AL wild card, breathing down Boston's neck. The Cardinals, for the most part without the game's best hitter and half their starting rotation, are positioned as the NL wild card. The Twins, Athletics and Marlins are in contention. The Indians, who tied the Red Sox for the most wins in the majors last season and were one win away from the World Series, are in last place, as are the Rockies, who also were in the World Series. The Braves and Mets each went into this weekend under .500, although being under .500 is no disgrace in the NL West, which as a whole has been outscored by nearly 200 runs.

Side-wheeling Oakland reliever Brad Ziegler, who overcame two fractured skulls and a stint in the independent leagues to join his college roomie Ryan Howard in The Show, hasn't allowed a run in his first month, and two different baseball intellectuals predicted Rich Harden as the MVP of the World Series. Mariners knuckleballer R.A. Dickey shut out the Mets this week, and the next night he told WFAN's intrepid Ed Coleman that the highlight of his trip to New York was visiting the Museum of Modern Art; Dickey also dropped a "Picasso" on "Mets Extra." Hey, Manny Acta became the first manager to ever drop a "VORP" on this reporter.

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